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  • B12. The Women of the Supreme Court

B12. The Women of the Supreme Court

  • 11/04/2021
  • 12/09/2021
  • 5 sessions
  • 11/04/2021, 3:00 PM 4:30 PM (EDT)
  • 11/11/2021, 3:00 PM 4:30 PM (EST)
  • 11/18/2021, 3:00 PM 4:30 PM (EST)
  • 12/02/2021, 3:00 PM 4:30 PM (EST)
  • 12/09/2021, 3:00 PM 4:30 PM (EST)
  • https://assumptionwise.org/Course-Zoom-Links
  • 13


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This course will examine the lives and careers of the five women to have served on the United States Supreme Court: Sandra Day O’Connor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor, and Amy Coney Barrett. Topics will include the family, educational, and legal backgrounds of the justices; the social forces and politics that drove their nominations; and their ideologies and influences on the law as associate justices of the Supreme Court. The course will also examine social changes in the United States and the legal profession that culminated in the appointment of women to the Court and consider whether the advent of women justices has influenced the dynamics and public perception of the Court.      

INSTRUCTORJohn S. Ross, III (Jack) holds degrees from Yale University and the University of Virginia School of Law and served as Adjunct Professor of Law at Washington and Lee University School of Law. Jack has taught numerous courses in the WISE program on constitutional law and the Supreme Court, and facilitates the WISE Supreme Court SIG.

No Required Books;  Optional readings:

Sandra Day O’Connor 

  • ·      The Majesty of the Law: Reflections of a Supreme Court Justice, Sandra Day      O’Connor (Random House Paperback Edition 2004)
  • ·      Sandra Day O’Connor: How the First Woman on the Supreme Court Became Its Most Influential Justice, Joan Biskupic (Harper Paperback Edition 2005)
  • ·      First: Sandra Day O’Connor, Evan Thomas (Random House 2019)
  • ·      Lazy B: Growing Up on a Cattle Ranch in the American Southwest, Sandra Day O’Connor (Random House Paperbacks 2003)

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

  • ·      Ruth Bader Ginsburg: A Life, Jane Sherron DeHart (Alfred A. Knopf 2018)
  • ·      Conversations with RBG: Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Life, Love, Liberty and Law, Jeffrey Rosen (Henry Holt 2019)
  • ·      My Own Words, Ruth Bader Ginsburg with Mary Hartnett and Wendy W. Williams (Simon & Shuster 2016) (a collection of her writings and speeches)
  • ·      Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik (Harper Collins 2015)

Sonia Sotomayor

  • ·      My Beloved World, Sonia Sotomayor (Vintage Books 2014)
  • ·      Sonia Sotomayor: The True American Dream, Antonia Felix (Berkley Publishing Group 2011)

Elena Kagan

  • ·      Elena Kagan: A Biography, Meg Greene (Greenwood Biographies 2013)

Amy Coney Barrett

I was unable to find a biography of Justice Barrett. However, some insights into her background and judicial philosophy and the impact of her appointment (replacing Ruth Bader Ginsburg) on the Court may be found in Linda Greenhouse’s new book: Justice on the Brink: The Death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the Rise of Amy Coney Barrett, and Twelve Months that Transformed the Supreme Court (Random House 2021). Ms. Greenhouse formerly served as the Supreme Court correspondent for the New York Times and now teaches at Yale Law School.

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In addition, there is a chapter discussing Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan in David G. Dalin’s book Jewish Justices of the Supreme Court: From Brandeis to Kagan, Their Lives and Legacies (Brandeis University Press 2017). Some of you might have heard Rabbi Dalin, a respected historian, speak at the Jewish Community Center when his book was published.   

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Worcester Institute for Senior Education (WISE)
Assumption University, 500 Salisbury Street, Worcester MA 01609

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